DRIVING TIPS IN IRELAND

Gearing up to drive in Ireland? It might sound intimidating, but trust us: driving on the left will feel like second nature after a few days of cruising along the Wild Atlantic Way, puttering along rural roads dotted with castles or circling the roundabouts outside of Ireland’s charming villages.

RULES AND REGULATIONS

  • Road signs: While warning signs in Northern Ireland are generally to international standards, those in the Republic of Ireland tend to be a bit old-fashioned. Don’t worry: most can be easily understood without problems. Direction signs are in blue for major routes (motorways), green for national roads, and white for local roads. Places of interest are signposted by brown in the Republic and black in Northern Ireland, both with white lettering. In Ireland, all place names will be listed in both Irish and English, and the distances are given in both kilometers and miles. In Northern Ireland, all signs are in English and use miles to communicate distances.

  • Seat belts are compulsory for front and rear seat occupants.

  • Cell phones: The use of cell phones while driving in Ireland is strictly forbidden. Bluetooth or handsfree devices are technically allowed but the Gardaí (police) warn that these devices are also distracting, and they will issue fines for any unsafe driving. Keep this in mind if you are planning to use your phone as a GPS for directions – and let a passenger be the navigator because the rule in Ireland is that the driver cannot touch a phone at all while operating a vehicle.

  • There are severe penalties for drink driving in Norway so please be aware of the rules. The legal limit is 20 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

  • Right of way: At unmarked crossings, the car from the right will have right of way, and the same goes for cars already in a roundabout. In the Republic, yellow signs with black markings give instructions at marked crossings, with a graphic approximation of the layout with thick lines denoting the right of way, thinner lines representing roads that have to yield. On rural roads, which tend to be very narrow, it is best to let large cars and buses have the right of way just to be safe - unless they are clearly stopping to yield to you.

  • Third party insurance is compulsory and green cards are highly recommended. Without it, visitors with motor insurance in their own countries are allowed the minimum legal cover. The Green Card tops this up to the level of cover provided by the visitor’s own policy.

SPEED LIMITS

Speed limits: In the Republic of Ireland, the speed limits are: 50 kph (30 mph) in urban areas; 80kph (50 mph) on single open roads; 100kph (60 mph) on national roads (marked by a green sign); and 120 kph (74.5 mph) on motorways. In Northern Ireland, the speed limits are: 50 kph (30 mph) in urban areas; 100 kph (60 mph) on single carriageways; 112 kph (70 mph) on dual carriageways. (Note: a single carriageway is a smaller road with one lane in each direction, whereas a dual carriageway has some kind of divider between the traffic going in opposite directions and usually has at least two lanes in each direction).

WHAT YOU SHOULD BRING ALONG

  • Valid US, Canadian, or EU driver's license (required)

  • Passport (required, if your driver's license does not have a photo)

  • International driver's license (optional for US, Canadian and EU drivers, required for others)

  • Vehicle registration document (V5) (required)

  • A contract from the rental car company or a letter from the registered owner giving you permission to drive, if the car is not registered in your name (required)

  • Proof of third-party insurance (required)

  • First aid kit and visibility vest (recommended)

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